By Valliant Corley
Pilot staff writer
GOLD BEACH The U.S. Coast Guard dedicated its new Rogue River Search and Rescue building Friday as it began its 2008 season at the mouth of the Rogue River.
"We literally broke ground a year ago today," said Capt. Lance O. Benton, commander of the Coast Guard Group North Bend.
"This is a great improvement over before," Benton said. "We can keep a good eye on the ocean here."
Master Chief Boatswain's Mate James M. Clemens, who heads the Chetco and Rogue river operations, said the new quarters bolster the Coast Guard's readiness.
"It's long overdue," Clemens said. "The history of the Coast Guard shows we have been patrolling these waters at least 40 years."
The new building, which includes a kitchen and sleeping quarters for the four-man crews who man a 47-foot motor lifeboat, is a big improvement over former quarters.
"For years and years, we've been living out of a single side trailer," Clemens said. "Last year, we were in a construction site trailer and an RV. The project had its setbacks and challenges.
"We are very eager to open and we were able to open on time," he said.
The rescue crews, which work two days on and two off, are headed by Tim Crochet and Brandon Lavelle. They will operate out of the Rogue River mouth until sometime in October when the recreation boats are through for the season.
"We were here still working on this yesterday," Clemens said. "The flags went up as we cut the ribbon. We're operational now."